Top 10 buzzwords in China 2020

By Ji Yuqiao Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/6 21:58:32

Medical staff nurse a COVID-19 patient in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, April 14, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

A Chinese magazine selected top 10 buzzwords that have gone viral on Chinese social media or reflect the major events that happened in China in 2020. 

Literature and art magazine YaoWen JiaoZi, established in 1995, has selected top 10 buzzwords of the year since 2012. The chart has become a wind vane for Chinese social media trends.

Top two buzzwords on the chart are connected to the most impactful event of the year: the spread of the novel coronavirus. The first buzzword is "People First, Life First," which was selected as it represents the significant achievements China made during the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The second, nixingzhe (people who brave a dangerous situation), became the nickname to refer to those individuals who worked on the frontlines during the battle against the novel coronavirus, including medical workers, police officers and scientific researchers.

With their resolute courage and determination, these individuals raced against time to fight the disease, with some even giving their very lives to keep others safe.

The fourth word is houlang (lit: behind wave), referring to today's younger generation. The buzzword originated with a viral video published on Chinese video sharing platform Bilibili on May 4, China's Youth Day.

In the video, 50-year-old actor He Bing, a representative of older generations, expressed his recognition and appreciation of the qualities of young people today. He cited their confidence, inclusiveness and professional attitude toward what they are passionate about and their ability to turn the things they love into causes that can be shared with millions of people.

Although the video also caused some controversy such as it referring to a small portion of young people instead of the entire generation, houlang has become a nickname for young Chinese on social media.

A Chinese netizen surnamed Fen, 26, told the Global Times that among the 10 words, her favorite one is dagongren, which refers to people who work for others. 

"I like it because the word makes me feel pleasant. I am not very ambitious and am satisfied to just be a dagongren and earn a living."

Dagongren used to refer to migrant workers and those who do manual labor. It went viral due to a short video that was uploaded in September. In the video, the video's creator appears to be getting ready for work and says, "Hard-working people have already run up a tower crane, while you are still in bed. You do not take your life seriously. Morning, dagongren!"

The video attracted a lot of attention as well as inspired numerous imitators, which lead to the word exploding on social media. Just like Fen, many people expressed their willingness to be dagongren, whether they do manual work or not, and approach their tough or tiring jobs with a sense of humor. 

Other words such as shenshou (lit: mythical creatures) to refer to naughty children and zhibodaihuo, live streaming to sell goods, have all reflected the changes in Chinese people's lives during 2020. 


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